These Are The Things I Know - 1 | New book
There’s a lot in the world that may not be real but that doesn’t mean it’s not fuckin’ true.
“What’s this book about?” I turned my wrist so the cover faced Umberto.
He squinted for a moment, then said, “Oh that one. You know … love, friendship, betrayal, other worlds, chaos, sex, magic.”
I arched my eyebrows, nodded. “Cool.”
I caught sight of the cover in his hands, a wrinkled and textured affair with bluish purple hue and veiny relief. “What’s that?”
“A cookbook for monkeys.”
I was getting used to this sort of answer from Umberto, one that sounded like a quip or joke but probably isn’t and requires a lot more asking to get to the truth. It’s a truth he wants to give but not yield easily. Kind of a dick like that.
“Like cooking monkeys or serving them?”
His eyes searched around me.
I looked about my head but saw nothing.
“Serving,” he said.
Someone stuck their head between us.
“Excuse me! I’m so sorry, but would you mind signing this?” They held a book with both hands up under their nose.
I sighed a little, took the book. “Sure.”
I took the book, cracked it open. The details used to interest me. Which edition was it? How’d they hear about me? What did they like about it? But after a thousand iterations or so, I couldn’t muster feigned interest. I just signed the damned thing and gave it back to ‘em.
“Thanks!” they said. “I love it that you …”
And they went on and on about all the things they loved about the book and about me. I was not physically capable of hearing what they were saying. I knew in some visceral way that they were referring to something in the B cluster of responses, about character or drama or intensity or some such. I heard a few keywords about things I’d said places or seen written about my stuff.
“Thank you,” I said at the hypnotically appointed time. “Thank you so much.”
They went on a bit more. Jesus, fuck, I thought. C’mon, I gotta pee.
As they kept on, I began to wonder about the book in my hands—you know, the one I wanted to read—and started to see the colors in the walls shift. There's some pliability to these walls, I thought. I could probably just walk through them.
I got the uncomfortable realization that the fan was just staring at me.
Winning smile and, “Well, it was lovely meeting you. Best of luck. New book’s coming soon!”
I turned away, toward Umberto.
From behind me, I heard, “You’re taller than I thought you’d be.”
Since my back was turned, I rolled my eyes.
Umberto smiled at me, eyes darting between me and them.
“Thanks!” I started walking.
“Ah, to be adored,” Umberto said.
“Yeah. It’s certainly not how I thought it would be.”
We passed our books over the counter to the pretty clerk there. He moved the pages around.
He smiled. It’s kinda flirty. “I can offer you a discount today …”
I smiled back, a little trampy with my sunglasses stem in my mouth. “Oh really?” Maybe he recognizes me, I thought.
He licked his lips. “Yeah. I just need your Bubble eye-dee, and we’re all set.”
I dropped the sunglasses, along with any pretense of interest. “Pass.”
“Are you sure? It’s ten percent off the cover?”
Umberto leaned over my shoulder and said to him, “Just bag it up, sweetie.”
The pretty clerk did, then handed me the satiny polybag, a large CoDex Booksellers logo emblazoned on it.
Umberto walked to the door.
“Hey, wait …”
Umberto looked back at me, but I was talking to the clerk.
I smiled at that. “Thanks, yeah, why does CoDex …” I lifted my bag and pointed at the logo, “… need my Bubble eye-dee? They own Bubble, right?”
He shrugged and smiled. “I dunno. They just tell us to ask for it.”
I smiled back, like, don’t worry your pretty head over it. Which was mean, I know.
So I put on some nice and said, “Okay! Well, thanks anyway!”
“Have a great day!” he said.
“Yeah, you too!”
Then we left.
“You want to get something to eat?” Umberto asked.
“Love to, but I’ve gotta get home. Can we do it some other time?”
He nodded. “Some other time, then.”
I watched him walk away with the book tucked under his arm and felt some relief we wouldn’t be eating together today. It’s a hunch thing. You know, that I wouldn’t have a taste for monkeys.
Read Chapter 2 | A theme of twos
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